Matt’s Rancho Martinez To Be Replaced by Mi Cocina

There’s been some chatter about what will happen to Matt’s Rancho Martinez when its lease expires in February 2012. Whether the restaurant will reopen in another location remains to be seen. But we can tell you what will go into the space. Ray Washburne of MCrowd confirms that Lakewood will get a Mi Cocina next year. All due respect to Matt’s, which I know many people consider an institution. But that’s an upgrade in my book.


  • Arnold Stang

    yeah because we need a 37th Mi Cocina in the area. good call, tim.

  • Buck

    Trading one tired concept for another.

  • Dallasgal

    Sorry but MiCo is way overrated. Their chips and salsa blow. Too bad a ‘scene’ overrides the food quality for many self-absorbed Dallasites. Matt’s will be very missed.

  • dk

    For once I agree with Timmy, upgrade.

  • Elsi

    This is terrible news. Just another chain restaurant taking over a family restaurant that’s an insitution in Lakewood.


  • they’d better keep that patio, all i’m sayin.

  • Richie

    Upgrade? You can go to anyone of 30 mico’s all over the place. Matt’s hS been there for what seems like 25 years. Great family owned. Hopefully they find a new location.

  • Tim Rogers

    People. Don’t defend a family-run restaurant SOLELY BECAUSE it’s run by a family. In general, I’m with you. I prefer to hand over my money directly to the folks who own the joint. But if a (local) chain servers better food, then I’ll go there.

    Only Dallasgal has mentioned food quality. The rest of you are just being nostalgic. Quality trumps longevity.

  • VM

    Mexican and Italian is covered, I was hoping for Toulouse.

  • Daniel

    Tim, I am baffled by your assertion. Is not the Bob Armstrong dip one of the 52 things every Dallasite must do before moving (albeit it appeared with a regrettably false attribution)? Mi Cocina is merely On The Border: The Next Genereation (On The Border itself having been El Chico: The Next Generation).

    Please defend your claim that Mi Cocina is an upgrade. Incontheivable!

  • Contrarian

    I’m with you, Tim. I love the idea of Matt’s Rancho Martinez, but when I lived in Lakewood, every time I’d go there, I’d realize that I was just patronizing the place because it had a good patio and because I have that Lakewoody love of the Local Family-Owned Business. The truth is, Matt’s kitchen is aggressively mediocre. My personal aesthetic is more Matt’s than Mi Cocina, but I don’t go to a restaurant for aesthetics. I go there to eat. And Matt’s really isn’t even in Mi Cocina’s league.

  • I not-so-respectfully disagree with Tim. Last weekend I wrote this from Buffalo Gap Food & Wine Summit, an upscale dine around.

    “I was most impressed by chef Marco J. Martinez of Matt’s Rancho Martinez. Marco is the youngest son of the late, great Matt Martinez, Jr. Marco created a “Southern plus prairie plus Texan” dish which consisted of a thick waffle covered with smoked rabbit and jalapeno cole slaw.” MiCocina is a completely different concept and in no way an “upgrade” for Matt’s. They can better afford the rent. Grrrr.

  • Scott Paradise

    I grew up with chef Marco and his brother Joaquin. Amazing food and an even better family!! So sad. One of the few remaining treasures of Dallas. Having just moved back from California, I can tell you Matt’s is awesome! God Bless the Martinez family.

  • Tim Rogers

    @Daniel: The Bob Armstrong dip is good stuff indeed. And now that Matt’s future is in question, you’d best hurry and cross that item off your bucket list, eh?

    @Contrarian: Well put.

    @Nancy Nichols: You know that audio I was listening to just now? The stuff that was freaking you out because you thought I was going to post it on FrontBurner? Now I’m going to post it on FrontBurner.

  • James

    I’m on the side of Matt’s… I find the food at MiCo to be highly overrated and over priced. I lvoe the food at Matt’s! I think it’s great quality and one of my favorites! I do hope they find another location- I can’t really see them just folding up shop and going home…

  • JK

    100% with Contrarian on this one. The patio and the dip are the only saving grace. With MiCo we’ll get better food and a renovated interior that doesn’t feel like a bus station.

  • Paul

    Sorry, but I have to agree with Tim. I loved Matt’s when I moved to Lakewood in 1993, going there just about every Friday night. It always held a nostalgic place with me when I moved away from the neighborhood. However, the food has definitely disappointed on the last few visits. Mi Cocina may be a chain, but its local, and the crowds can’t all be wrong.

  • Tim Rogers

    @Paul: Amen to you. But be careful. The crowds CAN be wrong. Ever been to Sea World?

  • Daniel

    If there’s one upside to all this, it’s that we now get to hear Nancy Nichols either making hot monkey sounds or accepting a bribe from a local restaurateur. (I’m thinking the fomer, since the latter would reflect poorly on the entire D enterprise.) And as for Bob Armstrong dip, I’ve had it at least 52 times.

  • @Daniel, if I took bribes I would not be writing a comment on my own blog. Jayzus!

    @Timmy If you post that audio I WILL CUT YOU!

  • Daniel

    So it’s hot monkey sounds. As I suspected. (Or maybe it’s you singing along, with great gusto and an errant sense of pitch, to Justin Bieber. Same difference.)

  • JI

    LOL Nancy… “a thick waffle covered with smoked rabbit and jalapeno cole slaw.”

    There’s no waffles with rabbit on the menu (unless it was added in the last 8 days, then I’m wrong). It’s a mostly generic Tex-Mex menu. And, while I like the place, there’s nothing about the food (other than the Bob) that I’ll truly miss.

    And for those of you who love that patio…wait until Mi Cocina comes in with some re-modeling cash. That space will be the best patio this side of 75, guaranteed.

    And beef sunset fajitas are pretty good too…

  • JI

    Nancy, before you get defensive…I know you mentioned that dish was at Buffalo Gap. But what a chef does for a one-time event is largely irrelevant when his restaurant cranks out generic Tex-Mex.

  • RightOn

    I agree!!!

  • Elsi

    I believe Nancy’s point is that the chef show’s some potential here.

    I’d rather Campisi’s be the restaurant to go away. Grossest food I’ve ever had. Alot of hype. I guess I’d better go into the witness protection program now… Maybe I can come back as a Leslie Brenner type, and just be angry at food all the time.

  • Vegetarian

    This is a great move. Matt’s doesn’t have any decent vegetarian options, and Mi Cocina’s has GREAT veggie fajitas. I’ve never liked Matt’s and i’m really glad we’ll have some good food in the neighborhood. Matt’s is all liquor and nostalgia.

  • Larry

    Hopefully Mi Cocina exterminates. Loved Matt’s patio, but last 2 times I’ve been there in the summer I’ve seen rats running around through the bushes and under the wooden patio.

    First time – sh*t happens. Second time – makes it tough to go back.

  • Seven

    And that makes me sad. The menu overall may be average, but the rellenos and Smoked Bob shine.

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  • Brandon

    It’s always only the people who don’t have any monetary investment in the situation who complain about preservationism. The tenant who can pay the most will usually get the space. When was the last time YOU made a significant monetary sacrifice in the name of preservationism?

  • Bob

    Haven’t we been here before? Good, basic El Chico “upgraded” to Cantina Laredo–about the same food at twice the prices!

  • cbs

    Someone please explain why people like Mi Cocina?!!! I just ate lunch at Gonzalez’ on Jefferson and would eat there 100 times over versus Mi Cocina’s tired and mediocre food.

    Matt’s is not much better, but it certainly is better.

  • Nanette

    I have to agree with cbs and Dallasgal as I have never understood the infatuation with Mi Cocina’s. The food is just so mediocore at best.

  • JI

    @ Bob

    Mi Cocina is better than than Cantina Laredo? Right?

    Matt’s isn’t that inexpensive! That’s the thing…it’s not El Chico cheap! Which makes the jump to Mi Cocina’s unnecessary prices almost tolerable…

  • Jackie

    Artery hardening dip, mediocre service, and a cavernous room do not a great restaurant make. I love the idea of Matt’s – nostalgia, funkiness, Matt, patio… The reality is the food is far from great, though not cheap, and they ruined the patio with all the poorly designed and exececuted decking. Can’t wait for that patio to be what it deserves to be! Can’t wait for something besides those cheese whizzy cheese enchiladas!

  • James

    I too have never understood what’s so great about Mi Cocina… So come on people, what’s so great about it?? It’s fine food, but I have never ever left thinking “wow, that was great”… I’ll take Uncle Julio’s and Pappasito’s over MiCo.

  • ChuckE

    I’m going to miss the chicken fried steak smothered in chili con carne, cheese, and onions at Matt’s!

  • marisa

    Let’s face it, neither of these resturants serve good food. Not even average food.Closer to poor quality. For good Mexican food drive a ways to Fernanados on Northwest hwy. That is good Mexican food.

  • mt

    they should round all these people up that are so in love with mi cocina and put them in the loon and burn it to the ground

  • Emily

    @ MT I like the way you think!

    Though Matt’s food isn’t GREAT mico isn’t either and it’s just so damn slick and north Dallas-y. Yuck!

    Drink your damn Mambo Taxi on McKinney. One more nail in the gentrification coffin.

  • JC40

    Mi Cocina is over rated. Matt’s wasn’t that great but at least it had personality.
    Tim’s attitude is part of what has destroyed the Metroplex’s history and personality: “The rest of you are just being nostalgic. Quality trumps longevity.”
    Like so many of the supposedly “high quality things” that have replaced historic things. Dallas need nostalga, badly.
    Hey Tim, have you ever tried Mi Cocina’s queso – its the worest in town. Their enchaladas are sub-El Fenix.
    The fact that D Mag lists Mi Cocina as one of the best Tex Mex places in Dallas makes me laugh and not take D Mag seriously at all in the food area.

  • Rj

    Contrary to what Parkies think, we don’t think having one of their institutions in Lakewood is an improvement.

  • me

    Blechhhh !!! how many times has the word “over-rated” been used above ? NOT ENOUGH !

  • Anne

    I’d better get down there for my favorite soon… the chile relleno with beef! Love the raisins versus the slight heat. With a Bob Armstrong starter! And I judge most Mexican food on the chips and hot sauce. I don’t like the chips at MiCo. The salt doesn’t even stick to them. But the chips and sauce at Matt? excellente!

  • george gobel

    Matt’s = A little slice of Austin. If you really think the food’s no bueno, drop by before they close and order the catfish tampiqueno and a root beer.

    Mi Cocina = Not horrible, just not very good. You’re right that nostalgia doesn’t make a restaurant, but neither does tenacious mediocrity.

  • Rick

    There’s still the Mattitos on Cedar Springs.

    Mi Cocina is quite good but you’ll never find a better chili relleno than the beef with green sauce at Matts. And, the bean and cheese flautas are to die for.

  • WhitneyTM

    This is a nightmare. Matt’s is a legend. Mi Cocina is a place people like to be seen on the patio. Major loss for Lakewood. I won’t be eating at the new “MiCo,” or at any of them for that matter. Whatever that is, it’s not Mexican food.

  • Steven F

    Local non chain flavor is what gives a city it’s character. Matts ain’t perfect but the chain restaurant experience just isn’t the same for me!

  • Ridemcowgirl

    OMG NANCY that Bon Qui Qui video is hilarious. I will cut you! Rude, Tim. Hysterical.

  • Mim

    Audio, eh, Nancy? See, this is why you should never date the people you write about.

  • M227

    @Emily… “north Dallas-y”? People are funny. If it’s old and in east Dallas, it surely MUST be preserved, right? I love Matt’s, but east Dallas pretentiousness is f’in hilarious.

  • bill holston

    I have real fondness for Matt’s. When my good friend Calvin died of Pancreatic Cancer, my wife and I went straight from the viewing to Matt’s for a Chicken Chile Rilleno with Green sauce. Matt was walking through. This was just after 9/11 and the world seemed a somber place. Matt stopped and chatted. We told him our friend died and his food was what we wanted. He was touched I think and we talked about comfort food and what he was shooting for. RIP Matt. You brightened that day for Jill and I.

  • Seven

    Up next: Barbec’s is bulldozed for an IHOP, Angelo’s becomes an Olive Garden, and Legal Grounds is replaced by a Waffle House. Why should we bother to appreciate the places that make our neighborhood unique?

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  • SteveD

    “Upgrade” my arse. Mi Cocina, Gloria’s, Luna e Noche…blah, blah. Typical interchagable Dallas styled pretentious tex-mex. I’ve been to them all and while they are ok, they don’t hit that tex-mex button that anyone from Houston or Austin is looking for. I NEVER seek out going to any of those places. I will be driving to the other Matt’s. It’s just a shame it’s not in my neighborhood anymore. I’m not being nostalgic. Yes,service has always been a little hit or miss, but man I love the cheese enchiladas, Bob Armstrong and the chicken stuffed zuichini. When friends and family come to visit, that’s where I take them. Everytime they’ve left fat and happy and have asked to go back when they return. So screw Mi Cocina and all you corporate suck ups enjoy the death of a real original.

  • LakeWWWooder

    Sorry y’all (over there and up there) we don’t need an “upgrade”. However we don’t build walls so I suppose there is no way to keep them out. It will fun watching this “concept” place go down the drain from from a stool in the Balcony Club.

  • VM

    Nothing like a Mexican food discussion to light up the comments. I live within walking distance of Matt’s and haven’t eaten there in over ten years. I don’t like it, although I do like the patio. In Lakewood I’ll take Cantina or La Calle Doce over Matt’s. Not sure how someone considers Gloria’s typical, interchangeable and pretentious, I only eat at the Davis location but it is none of those things. And I’m not a big Mi Cocina fan but I bet they do big business.

  • LD

    No way! Mi-diocre! Love Matt’s! Say it ain’t so……and yes we do not need another Mi anything. Can it be saved? Let’s hope. Many of us love Matt’s… keep your old school frat party W of 75……….

  • LD

    Cheese enchiladas, flautas, lite fajitas…..the food is great. Try the Bob w/o meat and pico in the stead……SO what I do love the family idea, the local restaurant idea, the idea of tradition in our ‘hood……the idea the my friends and I have been going there for years. What is wrong with that? Oh tear it down and put up a bank…………

  • LD

    This is why I never read D magazine.

  • Jeannie

    Um LD what does reading D have to do with this? I’ve enjoyed this convo about Matts

  • Steven F

    I was alot sadder when Matt’s No Place closed down.

  • Chris m

    Best news I’ve heard all month! Yes, I love bob armstrong and the relleno, and will miss ’em both, but I will gladly trade em for better service/mgt (adios to the prissy mgr who yells at the kids outside), sunset fajitas and mambo taxis.

  • Tony pampel

    1. At least I got, “try all 4 of Matt’s country fried steaks,” off of MY bucket list.
    2. Those of you who know me may be a bit taken aback, but I think the thing that’s conspicuously missing from this entire conversation has to be the Rustler’s Salad (with beef, of course)!
    3. While I’ll admit that the food at Matt’s wasn’t consistently superb, it HAS been nice to have an establishment to bring friends and family to that was uniquely ‘ours,’ and for that, Matt’s will be sorely missed.

  • Ryan

    Tim has sparked off a great dialogue in his comment and what I would like to say is that Matt’s is an institution in Lakewood. I was born, raised, and still live in the greatest neighborhood in Dallas and Matt’s is apart of it, just like Lakewood Landing, just like Dixie House. I’m not saying that I will not eat at Mi Cocina, probably will but no one who has lived in Lakewood 10 plus years can say that Matt’s has had an impact.

    Tim, would you consider IHOP an upgrade if it replace Goldrush Cafe…just curious

  • slade

    YAY MiCo!!

  • I can remember when Matt was on Ferguson and did ostrich fajitas!

    We went to Lakewood about a month ago and the food was dull. The salsa was incredibly runny and tatsteless. I don’t know if Matt is involved day to day but I’m afraid the quality is way down & I look forward to something better.

    As others have said, local = better, is not always true. Somebody mentioned Barbecs, I went there recently and couldn’t believe I used to think it was so great.